Welcome to The CISD Penguin Project
Showtime: April 16th & April 17th at 7:00 PM
Corsicana High School Auditorium
3701 W. Hwy 22 - Corsicana, TX 75110
Tickets will go on sale April 1 online. Tickets will also be sold at the door on a first-come, first-served basis. Social distancing and face masks are encouraged.
$10 each adult ticket
CISD Students get in FREE with Student ID, or coloring page
Alex Martinez, Music Director
Being able to witness our production of The Penguin Project has been rewarding for our leadership team. The goal was to provide an opportunity for children with special needs to grow creatively & confidently, with the hope that it facilitates friendships and the understanding for the special needs community. It has been a journey and we are so filled with pride to know that we have fulfilled these goals while also creating a forum for support for families of children with special needs.
We are so grateful to the CISD staff who have dedicated their time to these student’s journey. A special component of The Penguin Project is the leadership of our former CHS students.
Alex Martinez, a 2013 CHS graduate, retuned to Corsicana to start her adventure in teaching. Alex is the Choir Director at Corsicana Middle School and Collins Intermediate School. She is the UIL Music Memory coach, she helps with the UIL One-Act Play competition and CHS musicals.
As a student, Alex was involved in the CISD Theatre Arts program, staring in productions such as ‘West Side Story’, and a recipient of the Collins Scholarship.
She continues to devote her work to talents to the CHS Theatre Arts program, so when Cran Dodds, Director of the Penguin Project, approached her to join the leadership team, she agreed. “I enjoyed working with our high school students, so when I found out that this would be a district-wide event - I was immediately sold! It’s been a privilege to work with students of all ages and all abilities.”
“The Penguin Project is about collaboration, love, and support. It is a process of building relationships and expanding our comfort zones to help others realize their own full potential. We have all learned from each other as we escape from the hectic outside world for an hour and a half twice a week. My students of all abilities have flourished from being a part of this project. It brings me joy to see students experience the stage and the energy of all the people in the moment with you.”
As the Music Director, Alex is responsible for overseeing the musical production of the show to ensure every level of vocal performance is of the highest caliber. She works with the Director to prepare the cast by helping them learn their music. She leads music rehearsal for the chorus and principal cast members.
After each Penguin Project rehearsal, the cast and crew join each other in a song and dance that leaves everyone feeling encouraged after they practice. They sing, “Don’t Stop Believing” and it has become an anthem for the crew after this year. “It has been so rewarding to see their resilience and optimistic spirit.”
With less than three weeks away from opening night, Alex is thrilled to see this project come to fruition.
“This is incredibly exciting to present to the community! I remember being part of the musicals when I was a student, and these experiences are unforgettable. I cannot wait to share this wonderful production.”
Erin Jones, Peer Mentor
Corsicana Independent School District
The Penguin Project cast and crew comprise of the most hardworking and dedicated people. Friendships have been made, and special bonds have been formed between the Talent and the Peer Mentors.
The Penguin Project utilizes a “Peer Mentor” system linking each talent with a peer mentor. Student mentors have volunteered their time to work side-by-side and guide the talent through rehearsals and the show. The mentors are responsible for knowing the lines, songs, and blocking of their partners. They are on-stage during the production, costumed to match or compliment their partner cast. They participate in the group production numbers but their goal is to make sure the student talent is prepared and ready.
Erin Jones is a peer mentor for the character of Miss Hannigan in Annie, Jr. The Musical has been a special experience of inclusivity, hope, and belonging. She is a junior at Corsicana High School and no stranger to the world of theatre arts. Erin is involved with the local community theatre, the Warehouse Living Arts Center, and she participates in The UIL One-Act Play Contest.
The arts have always provided a therapeutic outlet for Erin and with the craziness that has happened since the pandemic, The Penguin Project has provided students with a safe space to grow and be themselves. The cast and crew have been able to encourage and uplift each other. “It has been something normal and consistent in a world when nothing is normal.”
When Mr. Dodds encouraged her to join the team of mentors, Erin was excited to join the team. Her older brother has autism and understanding his condition helped when working with the other students involved in the show. She appreciates The Penguin Project because she was given the chance to learn about other special needs, conditions, and disorders.
“I was so excited to be a part of the Penguin Project. It is exciting to be a part of something inclusive and uplifting. I have had the privilege of meeting so many new people who otherwise, I probably would not have had the chance of knowing. We’ve become a family by having this space to connect, have fun, and learn.” Erin has created a special bond with the student she is mentoring, she thrives supporting her with lines, dances, and blocking. “We have a special comradery between the both of us.”
Erin leaves practices feeling an incredible sense of pride and hope. Being the first school in Texas to offer this program, Erin hopes this ignites a “domino effect” within the students in the special needs community. “I hope the Corsicana community embraces this opportunity to see students experience the spotlight, and I really hope they connect with the impactful message.”
The Penguin Project is set to debut April 16th & 17th in the CHS Auditorium. Tickets will be available on April 1, 2021.
Cran Dodds, Director of the Penguin Project
Corsicana Independent School District
The Penguin Project at Corsicana ISD is producing the Broadway musical Annie, Jr. Cranston Dodds, the CISD theater arts teacher who has been with the district for the last eight years has played an instrumental role in bringing this to our community. As the Director of the Penguin Project, he has immersed himself into this project and he has made the cast and crew believers of the Penguin Project vision.
“A number of years ago, I was Development Director for the American Association of Community Theatres. Part of my task was traveling to theatres across the country taking part in fundraising roundtables, board development ideas, volunteer awareness…While doing this I ran into several Directors who were in the process of directing a Penguin production. Listening to these people filled me with such joy that I knew if, given the opportunity to direct this project, I would jump on it. I discussed the idea with our district superintendent. Next thing I know she and several of us were on a flight to Lincoln, Nebraska to see a Penguin production. That experience cemented the idea for all of us.”
The Penguin Project is an inclusion model within the arts bringing together students with special needs strategically paired with student mentors to produce the show. “We are the only organization in the state of Texas to produce a show of this kind. In fact, due to COVID-19, I have been told that we are the only group in the nation doing this. To share this remarkably unique project with a city that I love and care for is an honor. CISD has embraced this so fully and hopefully so will the community. The district is very excited about this, we have a lot of opportunities for local talent and volunteers to become involved.”
“This past year has been challenging for all of us. When faced with difficult situations many of us seek out moments of joy and humor. With the Penguin Project, I find so much happiness and joy in the success of the students. The relationships built between the students and staff are life-changing.”
“I’ve always felt that the theatre should be a transformative activity. That when one enters the theatre, either in the audience or as part of a production, your world has changed in some way. With Penguin, I see the world changing with every rehearsal. The cast gains confidence learns social skills and increases communication ability. This also applies to the staff. I see changes every day. Penguin is the vehicle for promising development. Penguin means the world to me. It offers joy, hope, and great satisfaction that we are serving a greater population.”
The Penguin Project will be performed live on stage in the Corsicana High School Auditorium on April 16 & 17, 2021. Tickets will go on sale in March.
Corsicana ISD featured in Texas Business School Magazine for The Penguin Project
Twelve Texas school districts recognized for ground-breaking programs
AUSTIN, TEXAS (Dec. 2, 2020) —Twelve Texas school districts have been recognized for their outstanding programs with the release of Texas School Business magazine’s 14th Annual Bragging Rights 2020-21 special issue. Bragging Rights, which calls for nominations and is published every December, recognizes school districts that have implemented programs that are bettering the lives of Texas’ students, schools and communities.
This year’s 12 honored districts and their brag-worthy programs include:
- Aldeo ISD, Employee Crisis Fund
- Bryan ISD, Odyssey Academy
- Corsicana ISD, Penguin Project
- Goose Creek CISD, Here, We Grow Giants
- Gruver ISD, Farm Scholarship
- Levelland ISD, Therapy Dog Program
- Liberty Hill ISD, All Girls Considered
- Palacios ISD, In-House Special Education
- Pine Tree ISD, Day of the Dead Program
- Throckmorton Collegiate ISD, P-20 Model
- United ISD, Suicide Prevention Program
- Vidor ISD, Behavioral Health Program
“School districts across Texas sent in their nominations this year, and each one deserves to be noticed,” says Texas School Business Editorial Director Dacia Rivers. “It’s our hope that the 12 districts we chose inspire others to follow in their footsteps. The mission of Texas School Business is to share the good news happening in Texas public schools, and there’s never a shortage of news-worthy school programs for us to cover.”
For 46 years, Texas School Business has served as the news magazine for public education in Texas. Since 2014, it has been produced by the Texas Association of School Administrators (www.tasanet.org). To read the 14th Annual Bragging Rights issue online, visit www.texasschoolbusiness.com.